Revelation 1:1-8 Unveiling Jesus Christ!

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Bible Study Series: Revealing Jesus in Revelation

Revelation Chapter 1:1-8 Unveiling Jesus Christ!

by I Gordon

Ok... a new year and a new series to begin. Drum roll... It is the book of Revelation! Alright, you already knew that! So what do you think when that book is mentioned? To some it is compelling and they spend a lot of their time trying to understand and unlock its puzzles. Others try avoid it like a 5th bout of Covid. For the majority it just stands apart, somewhat mysterious and often placed in that basket labelled 'too hard'. 

It has been well stated that:

"Revelation is hard to understand, but it is impossible to forget."
Dr. Earl Palmer

People have written into the website several times asking if I have any studies, or will do any, on the book of Revelation. Up until now it has been 'no, not really'. I have 'the beginning and the end' series but nothing specifically on the whole book. It is time to change that. Now it is not a small undertaking but personally I have always loved this book. I remember as a very young Christian getting taken into a Christian book shop by my mum where I was told that she would buy me any book I liked. Oh... my lucky day! I didn't have to look long. I found a commentary on Revelation by Tim LaHaye and that was that! Choice made! 

The book of Revelation is an incredible book wrapping up the other 65 books of the Bible and placing the seal on God's revelation to mankind. It touches on so many key themes of scripture, drawing imagery and examples from all over the Bible. But there is one central theme. It is the theme of the entire Bible actually. Do you know what it is? It is the person of Jesus Christ! So as we go through this series, He will be prominent. This book is the revelation from Him and of Him. Never forget that. Now some of the studies in this series may be shorter than usual but by doing so hopefully I can get them out faster. That's the plan! So what are we going to do today? Today is an overview.

  • We'll look at the main focus of Revelation and why many Churches, unfortunately, avoid it!
  • We'll touch on interpretation and its unique use of numbers and symbols
  • We'll explore what 'the' Revelation is - when every eye shall see Him!
  • We'll close with an application and what the blessing of this book is


Rev 1:1-3 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John, (2) who testifies to everything he saw--that is, the word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ. (3) Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.

Let me state this once, at the start, and then never, ever, ever again. The book we are studying is called Revelation, not Revelations. Please do me a favor and call it 'Revelation' and all will be well in the universe! : ) While there are many revelations made in the book, it is a singular revelation from Jesus, and, ultimately, about Jesus. He is the revelation. Who He is has been revealed through faith to those that believe in Him but soon that faith shall become sight... and then we will simply bow in stunned awe at this glorious One before us! 

What's in a word?
The word Revelation in the Greek is 'apokálupsis'. Apoka-what-sis? Apokálupsis, from which we get the word 'apocalypse'. When we hear that we think of chaos and the end of the world (and to be fair this book has its fair share of that!) but the primary meaning of the Greek word 'apokálupsis' is not destruction but to 'unveil, disclose, reveal'. That is why I have called this study the unveiling of Jesus! When Jesus came the first time it was an 'appearing' (2Ti 1:10). The next time is the full 'revealing' and 'unveiling'. The first coming was in humility with veiled deity. The second coming is in power with an unveiled revelation of His deity, glory and majesty! So keep this thought in your mind because we will come back here later in this study. 

The revelation given to John is said to be of 'what must soon take place'. This has confused some for they will rightfully say 'well it's been nearly 2000 years since this revelation. That doesn't seem all that soon to me!' The Bible Knowledge Commentary does a good job at explaining what the Greek word means:

The word “soon” (en tachei; cf. Rev_2:16; Rev_22:7, Rev_22:12, Rev_22:20) means that the action will be sudden when it comes, not necessarily that it will occur immediately. Once the end-time events begin, they will occur in rapid succession (cf. Luk_18:8; Act_12:7; Act_22:18; Act_25:4; Rom_16:20).  

Think of it like the first coming of Jesus. There had been 400 years of so-called 'silence' leading up to the birth of Jesus. But once that day came there were a succession of prophecies through His birth, life and especially death, that were fulfilled one after the other. We live in a day when we can see the signs around us of the days of Revelation. Players are being moved into position. When the whistle (well trumpet) goes and it all kicks off, it will do so suddenly and like a flood where the prophecies will be fulfilled one after another! 

From our passage you will see that there is a progression given of how we received this book: God gave it -> Through Jesus -> To an Angel -> To John who recorded it -> And I wrote on it -> And you read it! Thankfully this is not a game of Chinese whispers so nothing was lost in translation! Well... nothing up until John recorded it anyway... and the next person in the progression promises to do his best! 

The Blessing of Revelation

Now note also we don't get far into it before seeing that there is a blessing associated with this book. 

Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near.1

Question time - Can you think of another book in the Bible that gives a specific blessing for those that read and heed its words? No is the right answer. This is unique. So you are receiving a blessing today!

So if there is a special blessing in reading Revelation, why aren't people reading it? Or, maybe more to the point, why are Pastors and churches teaching on it? That was actually a question that came into the website - Why don't churches teach Revelation?     

  1. Some churches see it as controversial and don't want to ruffle feathers so they stay away.
  2. The different ideas out there on the symbolism in Revelation lead some Pastors to just stay away, putting it in the too hard basket.
  3. The book of Revelation, to be taught accurately, requires a good understanding of the whole Bible (especially the Old Testament) and some don't want to put the effort in to understand what it is saying.
  4. One major theme of Revelation, that God will soon punish the world and sin, doesn't sound all the 'positive' to some churches who prefer to focus on 'nicer' thoughts as they establish their own little kingdoms on earth. 
  5. Some of the 'absolute statements' over the years from those that are completely sure when Jesus will return has led to prophecy and end times in general being mocked in some circles.
  6. Back in the 70's with the 'Jesus People' revival, end times played a great part and people longed for, and spoke often of, Jesus' return. This was great but when His return didn't happen as soon as expected some lost heart and tired in their waiting and longing. So they started focusing on the final point...
  7. In general the church in the West is more focused on having your best life here and now... as if this place is where our hope is. It's not. But, as Bible prophecy indicates, the last church leading up to the return of Jesus is of the Laodicean spirit... which is basically worldly. It is happy and more than content with this world so why long for the life to come? 

Despite all this, the promise of God stands - there is a blessing in reading and heeding the words of this prophecy. The Lord says through John that 'the time is near'. And if it was considered near then, in 95A.D, how about now?  If it was near when John recorded this what about today when we see all the events lining up and approach 2000 years since the ascension of Jesus Christ? As you study this book, don't think of it as something far-off... for it is not!

Just as a side note, I'll draw your attention to the fact that John says that this book is the 'words of... prophecy'. Now that may seem self-evident but there are some that just see this book as a allegorical message of good versus evil through the ages. Nope. It is prophecy and it's words will be fulfilled as clearly and accurately as the prophetic scriptures of the Old Testament were with Jesus' first coming. 

Interpretation, Numbers & Symbols

Rev 1:4 John, To the seven churches in the province of Asia: Grace and peace to you from him who is, and who was, and who is to come, and from the seven spirits before his throne, 

This letter was initially written and sent to seven churches in Asia. John was passing on grace and peace from the One who is, was and is to come... and the seven spirits before the throne. Straight away we see two 'sevens' mentioned. If I were to ask you how many times in Revelation seven is mentioned, and you said 'um I'm not sure but maybe in 31 different verses', you would go immediately to the top of the class! I'm not going to say them all but as we go on we'll read about seven... churches, spirits, lampstands, stars, seals, horns, eyes, trumpets, angels, peals of thunder... seven heads, kings, bowls, plagues,,, ok you get the message. God likes this number seven. Now prominent numbers have meanings in scripture and seven speaks of completeness or divine perfection. But here is an important point - as you read this book don't get to the place where you just spiritualize it all away as if it is merely symbolic. Yes we will read of 'seven' many times but there are still seven of them. The seven churches are still seven churches. The seven seals and seven trumpets are exactly that number. And for that matter, the 1260 days or 42 months are exactly that length. The 144,000 is actually 144,000. The 1000 years is 1000 years. Don't spiritualize these numbers. They are exactly what they say they are. 

This topic of interpretation is an important one as we read this book. The very first verse says:

Rev 1:1 NKJV The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show His servants--things which must shortly take place. And He sent and signified it by His angel to His servant John.

You will see that it says that Revelation was sent and signified it by His angel. This word in the Greek is 'sēmaínō' meaning 'To give a public sign or signal.' That is, there are many symbols used in this book. I'm sure you know that! There are a couple of reasons why God did this:

  1. To protect the Church - The church, and John himself, were getting severely persecuted under the Roman rule of Domitian in the later part of the first century. Church tradition states that John himself had been placed in boiling oil even before his exile of the island of Patmos2. So if Revelation was written in a way that directly threatened Rome the letter would have been destroyed and the churches would have come under greater persecution. Therefore symbolism was often used as a means of protecting the church.
  2. To encourage study - The understanding of Revelation is kept for those that study God's word and understand the symbolism throughout the entire Old Testament. It is like Jesus' use of parables - to keep the unbelievers from seeing while reveling great truth to those that have eyes to see! (Mat 13:13-16)

But here is the key point - these signs and symbols are not open to anyone's imagination. Prophecy is not to be interpreted that way. 

2Pe 1:20-21 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet's own interpretation. (21) For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Prophecies uttered by men came directly from God and thankfully He gives the method of interpretation so that we do not become fanciful in our interpretation. Scripture interprets scripture and that is how we will approach this book. What we will find as we go on is that the signs and symbols are interpreted elsewhere either in Revelation itself or, in many cases, in the rest of God's word. In fact Dr. Arnold Fruchtenbaum lists over 500 references in Revelation to the Old Testament as an appendix in his book 'Footsteps of the Messiah'3

"What is new in Revelation? And how much of it is really old? Although the Book of Revelation has no direct quotations from the Old Testament, it has about 550 references to it and most of the information found in its first twenty chapters is also found in the Old Testament. Only the last two chapters deal with things totally new."
Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum

Though it is filled with signs, the Book of Revelation is accessible to those who have an understanding of the first 65 books of the Bible, and especially an understanding of the first 39 books of the Bible, the Old Testament. The Book of Revelation is rooted in the Old Testament. It contains more than 500 allusions to the Old Testament, and 278 of the 404 verses in Revelation (that is almost 70%) make some reference to the Old Testament.
Pastor David Guzik

So again... as we move forward I will try to point out the many references and pointers back to the word of God and we will remain on safe ground if we let scripture interpret scripture. 

The One we love...

Rev 1:5-6 and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood, (6) and has made us to be a kingdom and priests to serve his God and Father--to him be glory and power for ever and ever! Amen.

Now look at how John describes the risen Lord. He is:

  • The faithful witness - I like that. We hear so much about 'disinformation' in this day and quite often the ones giving disinformation are those warning against it! In fact it can come from those that are meant to be ruling and governing our countries! In contrast Jesus is the faithful witness. He cannot lie. This revelation is from Him and it is true. You can bet the house on everything word that He says! 
  • The firstborn from the dead - He also conquered the great enemy that has conquered all others - death! He has risen from the grave never to die again! He is the firstborn from the dead but thankfully He has no intention to be the 'onlyborn' from the dead. He is the first of many and He will share His victory over death with all those that believe in Him! Make sure you are part of that team! 
  • The ruler of the kings of the earth - And He is the ruler of all for He is the King of kings. There are many on this planet who think they are the 'big cheese'. They think that they rule and are accountable to no one. Well, Jesus is the King of kings and He will take His position soon. He will ask the Father and the nations will be given to Him as His rightful inheritance. Then, scripture says, things will come crashing down for (and upon) many of the so-called kings of this earth as they will hide themselves in the rocks, petrified at the wrath of the Lamb (Rev 6:15-17).

But what a contrast there is for those that have received His offer of salvation. This scripture tells us they are:

  • Those that He loves - It was His love, and the Father's love. that sent Jesus to the cross... despite all that we had done! There is no comparison or greater love than this!
  • Those that He has freed from their sins by His blood - He didn't just love us and leave it there. He provided a way to be cleansed and forgiven of all the wrong that we had, and will, ever do!
  • Those that are made to be kings and priests - And He didn't just forgive us and leave it there. He gave us a position of kings and priests so that we can serve God in the current age and rule with Him in the next!    

Every eye will see Him... as He really is!

Rev 1:7-8 Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all the tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him. Even so, Amen. (8) "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End," says the Lord, "who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty."

Here in verse 7-8, right in the first chapter of Revelation, we get a glimpse of the apokálupsis (you know that word now!) of Jesus Christ. Scripture says that every eye will see Him. It makes specific mention of those that pierced Him for this event will be completely tied in with those of Israel who will first look to Him spiritually, and then upon Him physically in their day of salvation. Zechariah4 tells us:

Zec 12:10 NIV And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son.

But what of the rest of the earth? Will they see Him? And if so, how could that happen? I mean if it is night on one side of the planet when He comes, it will be day on the other. If He comes to Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives, how will people in my country of New Zealand see Him? Well, think about a couple of scriptures that speak about that day. Because, as the prophet Zechariah says, it will be a unique day. It will not be a normal day in any stretch of the imagination. Concerning the return of Jesus at His second coming, Zechariah wrote:  

Zec 14:4-7 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south... the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.  On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. (7) It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime--a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.

Now combine this with what Jesus said concerning His return:

Mat 24:29-30 Immediately after the distress of those days 'the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light; the stars will fall from the sky, and the heavenly bodies will be shaken.' (30) At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory.

So we see that the revelation, the apokálupsis, the unveiling of Jesus Christ will be accompanied by unusual events. In the words of scripture it will be a unique day. There has never been a day like this one! Firstly, the sun is darkened so that it gives no light. There is no moonlight up in the night sky. The stars, in some way, are falling from the sky while the earth sits eerily still in darkness. The nations and peoples are petrified, anxiously awaiting what is about to unfold. God literally turns all the lights off before making the greatest revelation ever! In the darkness, the curtains of heaven are pulled back and Jesus Christ, the King of Kings is revealed! The thick darkness covering the entire earth will be split apart by the piercing glorious light of His coming and every eye can see it. Every eye can see Him! 

This of course, is not how people expected Him. This is not the little baby, born in a humble manager in the obscure town of Bethlehem that they had on their Christmas cards. 

This is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last... the Almighty!5 

And He is coming for judgement upon His enemies and redemption for His followers. 

Conclusion & Application

As we conclude, let's remember that God wants us to read and understand this book. The application of this message is to do just that! Read it. Think about it. Heed it by watching for His return. 

God starts and ends this book with a blessing for those that read and heed its words. But why? And what is this blessing? A few quick points come to mind as we close:

The Blessing of Revelation
  1. The blessing of clarity: Revelation is an unveiling and a revealing. It is an unsealed book. It shows the eternal plan of God in an order that can be followed and understood. Amongst a very mixed up world, there is a blessing of clarity in this that gives stability to our lives.
  2. The blessing of hope: Revelation is prophetic. It lays out the future and especially the return of Jesus Christ! There is a blessing of hope, the blessed hope, in this. There is no greater hope that the King of kings would return and put things right. In the books of C.S Lewis and the chronicles of Narnia, it is expressed in the hope of Aslan's return so that the long winter of the wicked witch would be over!
  3. The blessing of wisdom: Revelation turns our minds onto eternal matters and off the here and now. There is a blessing of wisdom in this. There is future reward in this. It helps us to make choices for our lives here that affect our rewards and life there. As the Psalmist said 'Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.' (Psa 90:12)
  4. The blessing of peace: Revelation shows that God is Sovereign, the One on the throne and in control even in the darkest moments. There is the blessing of peace and patience in this. In Revelation the throne of God is mentioned more than in any other book. He is called the 'Almighty God' eight times in this book (Rev 1:8, Rev 4:8, Rev 11:17, Rev 15:3, Rev 16:7, Rev 16:14, Rev 19:15, Rev 21:22). May our hearts be at peace as we realise that our Savior, Almighty God, is on the throne!
  5. The blessing of praise: Revelation unveils Jesus as He truly is, the King of kings, the creator, redeemer and ruler of all creation. There is the blessing of praise and worship in this. It lifts our hearts to be in awe of this One that desires all that we have and are.
  6. The blessing of understanding: Revelation ties all the Bible together, showing how all the parts meet their end. There is the blessing of understanding in this. We see that the whole Bible is tied together in an integrated message from start to finish. And Genesis and Revelation especially form the two book-ends that hold everything in place. What Genesis began, Revelation ends! 
  7. The blessing of certainty: Revelation is attacked by the enemy for it confirms his end & judgement, and it shows that Jesus & believers win! There is the blessing of absolute certainty in this. We are on the right team, the winning team, if we know the Lord! 

So let us do what God says and read this book! Let us ask God for wisdom and understanding as we do so. 

And let us take to heart it's message. He is coming and we want to be ready.

God Bless.


  1. Just in case you were running low and wanted some more 7's, the Ryrie Study Bible notes that this is the first of seven 'blessings' in the book of Revelation. Can you think of any others? Well, no need to think for here they are:

    1. “Blessed is the one who reads the words of this prophecy, and blessed are those who hear it and take to heart what is written in it, because the time is near” (Rev 1:3).
    2. “Then I heard a voice from heaven say, ‘Write: “Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on. “Yes,’ says the Spirit, ‘they will rest from their labor, for their deeds will follow them’” (Rev 14:13).
    3. “Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed” (Rev 16:15).
    4. “Then the angel said to me, ‘Write: “Blessed are those who are invited to the wedding supper of the Lamb!”’ And he added, ‘These are the true words of God’” (Rev 19:9).
    5. “Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (Rev 20:6).
    6. “Behold, I am coming soon! Blessed is he who keeps the words of the prophecy in this book” (Rev 22:7).
    7. “Blessed are those who wash their robes, that they may have the right to the tree of life and may go through the gates into the city” (Rev 22:14).

  2. Tertullian, in The Prescription Against Heretics, Ch. 36 writes:

    "Since, moreover, you are close upon Italy, you have Rome, from which there comes even into our own hands the very authority (of apostles themselves). How happy is its church, on which apostles poured forth all their doctrine along with their blood; where Peter endures a passion like his Lord's; where Paul wins his crown in a death like John [the Baptist]'s; where the Apostle John was first plunged, unhurt, into boiling oil, and thence remitted to his island-exile."

    There is the thought that the emperor Domitian wanted to kill John because of the (incorrect) rumor that circulated that he would remain until the day that Jesus returned - as John wrote about in John 21:20-25.

  3. For a further discussion on how Revelation should be interpreted and the many references in this book to the Old Testament, see this paper from Dr Arnold Fruchtenbaum:
    Use of the Old Testament

  4. So many great prophecies in Zechariah! Note also the verse that comes before the well-known prophecy about the Shepherd getting struck and the sheep being scattered:

    Zec 13:6-9 If someone asks him, 'What are these wounds on your body?' he will answer, 'The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' (7) Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is close to me! declares the LORD Almighty. "Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn my hand against the little ones. (8) In the whole land," declares the LORD, "two-thirds will be struck down and perish; yet one-third will be left in it. (9) This third I will bring into the fire; I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, 'They are my people,' and they will say, 'The LORD is our God.' "

    Jesus' wounds were received at the house of His friends. One day Israel will see that... and mourn over what they did!

  5. I am Alpha and Omega." This is quite a remarkable statement in the Greek language. The alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. From an alphabet you make words, and Jesus Christ is called the "Word of God"—the full revelation and intelligent communication of God. He is the only alphabet you can use to reach God, my friend. The only language God speaks and understands is the language where Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega and all the letters in between. He is the "A" and the "Z," and He is the "ABC." If you are going to get through to God the Father, you will have to go through the Son, Jesus Christ. Here the emphasis is upon the beginning and the end... "The beginning and the ending" refers to the eternity of the Son and His immutability. Concerning this, Heb_13:8 says, "Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever." When it says that He is the same, it does not mean that He is walking over yonder by the Sea of Galilee today. He is not. But it means that in His attributes He is the same. He has not changed. He is immutable. Since He is the beginning and the ending, He encompasses all time and eternity.
    J. Vernon McGee

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